Because California has a mandatory parole system, if you serve your determinate sentence for a felony in a California state prison, you will be on parole upon your release. When granted parole after incarceration, there are a few things you must be aware of.
First and foremost, the parole officer can exercise a large amount of control over your life during parole. Stipulations are case-dependent, but frequently parolees are prohibited from associating with known criminals. Parolees must report to all meetings with their probation officer, and failure to do so can violate parole. Parolees caught with concealed weapons or illegal drugs are likely to be reincarcerated.
Important conditions to be aware of, which may be in the terms of your parole:
You consent to be searched by law enforcement officers at any time with or without a warrant, and with or without probable cause;
You agree to live within designated county limits;
You agree to notify your parole officer of where you live and work;
And for more serious felonies, you agree to register with the local authorities of that county (such as with a felony sex offense, pursuant to California Penal Code 290 PC, or felony arson, California Penal Code 451 PC arson);
And you agree to other conditions relating to specific offenses, which may limit your proximity to designated weapons, accessing the Internet, or associating with known gang members.
It is important to be familiar with all conditions of your parole to avoid an accidental violation.
If you have been arrested for violating your parole, there are a few things to keep in mind. The Board of Parole Hearings governs revocation hearings, but each hearing is presided over by a deputy commissioner. It is up to the deputy commissioner to determine whether the violation warrants return to prison, and for how long. First, you are granted certain due process rights, including the right to a criminal defense attorney, a written notice of the alleged violation, the disclosure of evidence against you, the right to present evidence on your behalf, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses (unless there is good cause for not permitting a confrontation, such as the safety of the witness, as determined by the hearing officer), a neutral hearing board, and a written decision detailing the outcome of the hearing.
Not all arrests will lead to automatic reincarceration, and the parole revocation hearing has a two-part process. The first is a probable cause hearing, which will determine whether the Parole Board has probably cause to proceed with the revocation hearing. If the court has reasonable suspicion you violated parole, they will continue with the hearing. The second hearing is the final parole revocation hearing. You have the right to challenge state’s evidence against you and to have your criminal defense attorney present evidence in your defense or to mitigate the accusations. Your criminal defense attorney may also question your parole officer, and this attorney should be skilled in effectively extracting favorable testimony from your parole officer, usually including exemplary or promising behavior on parole.
Another important note, though, is that since this isn’t a criminal trial, the rules of a parole violation hearing are more relaxed, and such evidence as “hearsay,” notes, letters, and affidavits excluded from a criminal trial is admissible in California’s parole violation hearings. But again, you want a criminal defense attorney who is practiced—and highly skilled—in refuting the credibility of such evidence.
The final revocation decision is based on “preponderance of evidence,” which means the deputy commissioner found reasonable assurance that parole was violated—instead of the “beyond reasonable doubt” burden of proof required in a criminal trial. This means you need to persuade the deputy commissioner that it is unlikely that you violated parole. Some defenses that are applicable, especially against “hearsay” evidence, is if you are a victim on false allegations, such as by a past victim who is upset at your release from prison, or someone else who may have a personal vendetta against you. Another applicable defense is arguing mistaken identity, or establishing that your due process rights were violated.
According to California state law, parolees will serve revocation time in county jail instead of prison. This time served can last only 180 days. For more information, visit www.cdcr.ca.gov/realignment/Parole-Revocations.html. Parole laws often change; however, if they do, they do not change the terms of a parole agreement already in-progress.
You want to be aware of your rights, as you are entitled by state and federal law, and a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you throughout the process of arrest, incarceration, and parole. For any questions regarding parole violations or other criminal defense questions, or to set up a free consultation, visit us at www.bajajdefense.com/ or call (619) 525-7005.